For the last 12 months or more we have been studying and working out in practice what it looks like to church plant in the various areas (Africa and now Northern India) we have been working. The reason our desire is to specifically plant church as a mode of missions comes from many places both in the bible and through some of our own experiences in mission, but a central text which led us to it what the classic missionary scripture – Matt 28:19 Go and make DISCIPLES of All Nations, Baptizing them…
Make Disciples, two words which have both comforted and haunted us as we seek to ‘bring the kingdom’ where ever we have gone in the last few years. Africa itself is another encouragement to plant churches that foster disciple-making. This may shock some, but Africa HAS been reached with the Gospel, that is to say, the information of the Gospel. It is estimated that some 90% of African have heard the gospel, missiologist, those that study mission practices, have called this ‘evangelised’.
But wait a minuite, lets think about africa for a minuite – Every statistic that represents Africas health, education, and morality continues on a downward slope! If this is Africa’s current state and there has been such a large spread decision or salvation-based response to the gospel then what is wrong. Isn’t the Gospel good news, shouldn’t it heal, restore, renew and bring life? Yes, of course it is all these things, but I believe we have come to a time where God is revealing some holes in our thinking.
A decision for the gospel is important, a response, an acceptance of salvation is central to christian life, but in our approaches to evangelism we have left out the core of what it is to be ‘saved’ and that is to ‘follow Jesus’. Following Jesus is how we are known as disciples, and it is as Neitzche once said ‘A Long obedience in the same diection’. For those of us who have active desire to see the gospel go out, there should be an expectation that lives, families and communities will truly be transformed, but as we have seen, this needs much more than just a decision. The life of a disciple is a life where we are invited into the life of the trinity, be loved by the Father, commissioned by the Son, and empowered by the spirit. We are invited to read the Bible, and look to obey its words, to pray to receive the faith to implement the kingdom of heaven on earth throughout our days.
I believe it is when we redress the balance in evangelism and missions, of seeing discipleship takes its right place in our approaches and mindsets that we will see the type of exponential kingdom fruitfulness that Jesus had in his time on earth.
We’ll keep fleshing out what we mean some following posts, but jump into the comments now and let us hear your thoughts.